An article in The Wall Street Journal Monday headlined “The Gluten-Free Craze: Is It Healthy” makes an interesting point about food manufacturers trying to get in on a health craze that actually only affects a small minority of consumers.
In reality, the only people who need be concerned about gluten, the article points out, are those with celiac disease – a condition affecting less than one percent of the population – although, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, another 18 million Americans suffer from “gluten sensitivity” that may cause feelings of discomfort. Yet “gluten-free” claims have proliferated, and have been a driving force in the sales of many products, including some that never even contained gluten.
And that, some experts charge, could be causing consumers to make choices that aren’t necessarily in their best interest – for example, by buying “gluten-free” items that actually have fewer nutrients than their gluten-containing counterparts.
Of course, “gluten-free” is only one of a number of health claims used on product labels, as the article also points out. Here at Food Identity Theft, our job is to help consumers sort them all out, identifying those that are actually “part of the solution” to food-related problems and others that are problematic in themselves.
A good example of the latter are trans-fat free labels,” which the Journal notes are being used on products such as milk, “even though milk never contained the artificial kind of trans fats that clog arteries.”